Pakistani army chief announces Safe City Project for Parachinar

By Muhammad Ahil

Pakistani army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa on June 30 confers with tribal elders in Parachinar, Kurram Agency. Bajwa listened to elders' concerns about recent terrorist attacks and announced additional security measures aimed at improving the situation. [Courtesy of Inter-Services Public Relations]

Pakistani army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa on June 30 confers with tribal elders in Parachinar, Kurram Agency. Bajwa listened to elders' concerns about recent terrorist attacks and announced additional security measures aimed at improving the situation. [Courtesy of Inter-Services Public Relations]

PESHAWAR -- Tribes in Parachinar, Kurram Agency, are welcoming the government's decision to bring the Safe City Project to the terrorism-stricken city in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa announced the additional security measures on a visit to the upper Kurram Agency headquarters June 30.

Bajwa's visit came a week after twin blasts hit Parachinar's busy Turi Market as customers shopped for Eid ul Fitr on June 23. The attack killed at least 72 people, according to local news reports.

Prior to that, on March 31, a Taliban car bomb tore through a market in the city, killing at least 22 people, and in January terrorists targeted a vegetable market, taking at least 24 lives.

After the latest terrorist attack, claimed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, local residents staged a sit-in to protest the violence and demanded the presence of Bajwa and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

Additional security measures

During his visit with tribesmen, Bajwa expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and pledged to boost security.

The Safe City Project, already implemented with success in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Islamabad, will soon be established in Parachinar, Bajwa said.

The project includes the installation of closed-circuit television cameras throughout the city, which are linked to a command and control centre and which police officers monitor live.

The army chief also announced the deployment of additional troops to the city, border security measures under way, the establishment of a cadet college, upgrades to the civil hospital and the creation of a trauma centre for injured survivors of terrorism.

Tribal support

Kurram Agency tribes welcomed the initiatives and expressed their full confidence in the security forces and support for the administration's steps towards the restoration and maintenance of peace in the area.

"The army chief's visit to the violence-hit valley boosted the morale of the tribes who have been on the frontline in fight against terrorists," said Pakistani Air Force Air Marshal (ret.) Shahid Latif, a military strategist based in Peshawar.

"[Opening] the trauma centre and the establishment of the cadet college are some very positive steps that will promote a sense of national unity among the people of Parachinar," he told Pakistan Forward.

The Safe City Project will help prevent terrorist attacks and enhance security in Parachinar, said Gen. (ret.) Ghulam Mustafa, a Peshawar-based security analyst.

"The people of Parachinar will get some relief," he told Pakistan Forward.

Enhanced border security management will help stem infiltration from Afghanistan, added Brig. (ret.) Ghazanfar Khan, a Peshawar specialist on tribal and security affairs.

"ISIS has started gathering in the Tora Bora area of Afghanistan facing Parachinar, and the timely measures announced by the army chief will help counter that threat," he told Pakistan Forward.

A nation united against terror

"As a nation, Pakistanis have offered unprecedented sacrifices in the war against terrorism and we shall succeed," said Bajwa, eulogising tribesmen killed in terrorist attacks. "Our enemies shall never succeed to lower our resolve or to divide us."

The army fully supports the mainstreaming of FATA, he said, calling it "essential for enduring peace and stability".

"We need to remain united, steadfast, prepared and vigilant against this threat that has an agenda of exploiting sectarian fault lines," he said, referring to ISIS.

"Our security forces are a symbol of national integration, [and] so is our security apparatus," he said. "We are one nation."

Greater border co-ordination and security co-operation between Pakistan and Afghanistan are required, he added.

Terrorists 'will be defeated'

"Terrorists will be taken to task and will not be spared at any cost," Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, who also serves as the chief executive of FATA, told Pakistan Forward.

"The tribes' sacrifices for Pakistan will not go waste, and terrorism will be defeated with their support and will," he said, adding that development projects focused on social welfare, schools and hydro-electric energy for the tribes aim to "foil terrorists' plans to divide them on ethnic and sectarian lines".

"They will be defeated," he said.

The Safe City Project and additional troops will help restore the tribes' confidence and Parachinar will be safer, Parachinar journalist Hussain Khan told Pakistan Forward.

"Strict surveillance is a must, but going against militant sympathisers is equally important to quell terrorism in Kurram Agency," he told Pakistan Forward.

The tribes have full confidence in the army and are optimistic about the security of the city, said Hidayat Ali, another Parachinar-based journalist.

Border security is the "most important" aspect of security and "key for the restoration of peace and rooting out terrorism", he told Pakistan Forward.

The establishment of a 50-bed trauma centre and of a cadet college and improvements to the civil hospital, all in Parachinar, are appreciated by the tribes, he added.

Residents hope for fulfilled promises

Zahoor Bangash, a native of Kurram Agency who had to flee in 2008 because of sectarian violence and militant threats, said he appreciated the army's efforts, but wished they had come sooner.

"It is the beginning of a new change for a peaceful Parachinar, and it must be acknowledged," he told Pakistan Forward from Peshawar, where he still resides. "The public should stand with the security forces and get rid of the evil-mongers once and for all."

Ali Turi, a Parachinar resident, also welcomed the authorities' pledges for improved security and support.

"The promises often made are seldom fulfilled, but it is time the authorities and the tribes both stand up to the occasion and put up a collective fight to win this war," he told Pakistan Forward.

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This is all rubbish. shame on you